How Stained Glass is Used to Tell Stories

March 15, 2017

Stained glass windows are one of society’s most primitive methods of storytelling. Whilst their original storytelling purpose came about in the sixth century to depict Biblical stories to the illiterate masses, they are still used today in churches across the world. Here is an overview of how stained glass is used to tell stories.

Sequential design

Like a storyboard or tapestry, stained glass windows use a sequential layout to communicate the story being told. Depending on the shape of the stained glass window, the sequence of which the images should be read will most likely be horizontal or vertical. With many older stained glass windows however not undergoing stained glass repair, it is sometimes difficult to fully ‘read’ the intended story.


Pure imagery


Whilst there is often a small amount of text on a stained glass window, stories are primarily told through imagery. As previously stated, this is due to the historical context at the time of its creation, in which the population was largely illiterate and therefore relied entirely on pictures.

The importance of colour

Whether a story is told through stained glass windows, stained glass doors or leaded windows, there is no doubt that colour is the most influential factor. Whilst the stunning colours of stained glass give churches a beautiful aesthetic, their most important role is depicting various settings, characters and messages in a story.

Symbolism in stained glass windows

Symbolism plays a vital role in telling the right story. For example, to show that someone is a King, he would often be depicted as twice the size of his subjects, whilst a character of richness and warmth would be emphasised by their pairing with gold leaves and halos.

For more information on stained glass and stained glass services, such as window frame repair, window restoration and double glazing for listed buildings, contact stained glass specialist Sherriff Stained Glass Specialists today on 01202 882 208.

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